Monday, December 29, 2014

Xmas in Shallotte

Got some solid mileage down in Shallotte over the Christmas holiday. Seven mile harder run late afternoon Christmas Eve after some torrential rains finally let up. Legs were pretty dead at the beginning of the run but I was determined for reasons somewhat unknown to push the pace harder.  At times I have to kind of wind my legs up like a coil... or pound thru the earlier miles when my legs feel sluggish and fatigued... to be able to get to where I can let it then unwind or uncoil pace wise and run faster like I want to.

Which did occur after a few miles and after I was forced due to a washed out road to detour my run. I think some days though... to return to said unknown reasons...I just need to feel the sensation of running faster and to work through the accompanying processes which correlate to and occur when running harder. IE changes in breathing, pulse, lactic acid build up. And mentally..  combatting or pushing through the VOICE that tells me to slow down, it hurts too much, you can't sustain this, etc, etc. Maybe I need to know that I can still do it.

Ran the five mile loop around the outer perimeter of Brierwood with my Dad Christmas morning. Told him at one point that I feel like through all the years of going to visit and running when there that I know almost every inch of this route. A car drove  by us later in the run and a woman rolled down her window and said "Merry Christmas" I asked my Dad if he knew who it was but he didn't.

The next day we did nine miles on a course that took us into the back country roads of southern Brunswick County. The miles rolled by smooth like the puffy white clouds drifting high up in the clear winter sky. Later I went down to Ocean Isle Beach and put down another six miles as the big orangey yellow sun fell towards the western horizon. Took a short walk onto the beach at low tide... soaking in the immense swath of ocean after another blessed day of some good ol runnin' 

Monday, December 22, 2014

December runs

Two a days again on Monday. Eight miles in the morning, mostly back in the CB State Park. Foggy, damp, chilly morning. Back in the woods the grey white of the sky is like a marshmellowy pillow lying gently atop the trees. At one point I lose myself to the cacophony from a large flock of birds that I cannot see. As I run I just listen to them and the gentle thwapping sound my shoes make on the pine needle and leaf covered trail. 

The miles glide by like friendly guests at a dinner party.  I may linger for a moment... but then its a seamless transition to the next.

Added some sprints in the grass by the CB Lake when I was done. Watched some shore birds first for a few moments.  I knocked out another four plus miles later in the day, ending the run in a light shower... but beating the rain for the most part. Legs felt loose and fluid.  I opened it up a little but not too much. No need to today. Last week I ran two a days twice and picked the pace up a good bit on the second, shorter runs. Pushed through some fatigue Friday.

Ran eight miles Saturday morning with my Dad in the western part of the city of Richmond. Followed a route that I had run the previous winter while up there and staying in the same hotel.  Which led us to Deer Creek Park...a forested oasis in the midst of urban America. Recalled certain parts of the course as we ran... the narrow bridge over I-64, a steep half mile or so hill on the way back, the barking dogs behind a local vet's office. The labyrinth of gravel and dirt trails in the park. My Dad was real happy with the run afterwards.

We also had the fortuitous chance to see a hawk fly across the road with a squirrel in its talons.

Fifty miles week last week which is right where I want to be. Enjoying the process. Finding bits of peace and serenity inside the runs. Feeling grateful.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Ran a pretty good 5k race on Saturday. 18:38 chip time. Even paced miles; splits of 6:03, 6:03, 6:07. Last mile was back into a slight wind plus I had no one around me. But was able to push it pretty hard. Grade myself at about a B or B- for effort.

Feeling a stirring inside of me to get back more in tune with idea of a Vision Quest which I began last spring. Did culminate at least temporarily with the Iron Mountain fifty mile race

But now I'm longing to pick up her torch again and blaze forward into new adventures.  Of which I can't seem to be able to articulate into words. Maybe that's alright though. Its basis anyhow lies in the physical action of running. The mind and spirit will follow.

Of course time will tell. For now the plan is to base build and get the weekly/ monthly mileage totals built back up some more. Also staying diligent with and adding to the ancillary work. Free weights and upper body work with pushups. The core work doing sit ups and planks + the myrtle routine after runs. And adding back in some leg work like lunges and squats.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Night before

I like to listen and watch the ocean's waves rolling in the night before a race. Think about harnessing her brute power... storing it up and then unleashing it on race day.

The invisible energy between the moon and the water.

Feeling it inside of me.

Knowing that the pain will come. But not trying to dwell on it or think about it too much the night before. Visualizing hitting my marks... pacing, splits. Reminding myself again not to go out too fast. Perhaps seeing a quick flash of a clock time at the finish line. 18:XX  (5K)

Giving thanks. Giving thanks that I'm of sound mind and body and am blessed to be working off some nervous energy the night before a race. Never forgetting (even if not consciously thinking of) where I came from.

Seeking humility.

Feeling closer to God.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Blessed to be able to spend a few days back home and running in eastern Pennsylvania.

Cold runs. Dressed in long pants, layers, beanie, and gloves. But enjoying every mile of. Hitting the hills. Running parts of the old routes that I cut my teeth on twenty, thirty years ago. Yes Thomas Wolfe... in running you can go home again.

Ran a section of the D and L (Delaware and Lehigh) trail one of the days. Started at the Lehighton trailhead and ran south along the west bank of the Lehigh River. Was a grey, damp day with temps in the low to mid 30s. Those days where any color seems to be washed out by the vast grey sky which droops down amoeba like on all sides. But in its wake a certain type of beauty seems to emerge... if only one is looking for it in the right places.

The kind of day where when I pass the old railroad electric T like poles I think of my grandfather and how he fished and hunted all around here ... these were his woods, his river, and his streams. I feel proud to be carrying on in his name. The trail curves around the base of the Blue Mountain and a find myself running in some ethereal spot that I used to have disjointed dreams about years and years ago. I can see the hi way across the river up against the other side of the gap in the mountain. Its romantically outlandish to be running here.... as if a portal has been opened into another dimension. I try n make sense of some of the graffiti scrawled high up on the over hanging rock faces. Like we used to look at as kids riding by way across on the hi way

On the way back a train goes by on the other side of the river and on down thru the valley. I run to its low groaning rumbling hum and think of nothing but just listen to the noise until it fades and fades and fades...

I felt really alive


I did a late afternoon harder run on the towpath (in shorts, the only time) one of the days. Half mile or so in I wonder what is on the bottom of my right shoe.  I stop briefly to scrape the sole off on a bench and realize nothing is there its just that my foot is numb and just feels funny. I ran to the observation tower and up the two small flights of stairs ... and stopped for a brief second and gazed out at the cold running waters of the Lehigh snaking on down thru the woods and the valley. Back down and back up the towpath running hard, running strong thru the fading daylight closing the last 2 miles in 6;11 and 5:57 pace.

Other runs I hit all the hills I could. The hills where you lick your knees and shuffle one foot and front of the other ...til you think your lungs will pop. Hills that I've crested a million times

On and on and on it goes...and I shall return yet again.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Trail Racing

Ran the Carolina Beach State Park 4 mile trail race Saturday in a time of 24:38. Finished in 4th place overall out of 253 runners, and won top Masters. Nice morning spent with my Dad and some friends old and new in the running community. Picture perfect late fall day too, with clear skies, little wind, and temps in the 30s and 40s.

It was one of those days running and racing wise where things seemed to click. I felt alright on a easy 1.5 mile jog warm up with my Dad before we went back to the park... and also added some in and out sprints in the State Park ten to fifteen minutes before the 9am start. 

I knew the pace would probably be pretty fast the first half mile or so on the main park road before we filed onto the trails... since its much harder to pass and make up ground there. Which is counter to how I like to begin a shorter race at a more relaxed/ controlled harder pace before getting up to race speed closer to say the 1/2-  3/4 of a mile mark. Secretly I was hoping it wouldn't be too frenetic early...which in retrospect it wasn't too bad...and there was plenty of distance to shake the field out. But nonetheless I knew the sprints would help elevate my heart rate to be more prepared for the fast early tempo.

Was in about tenth place when I did hit the trails. Its kind of surreal racing on roads and trails that I run on all the time, mostly by myself. But it also served to motivate me to do better. And it also served to put a little pressure on myself to come up with a good performance on my home turf.

I fell in behind a guy who judging from his appearance I assumed (correctly, 46 years old) was also a Master's runner. During the next 2-3 miles we would each try surges in attempts to drop the other. It was fun in a physically and mentally taxing way to be really racing someone in the race. Was also a younger guy with us too whom I kept incorrectly assuming was going to fall off our pace. Though he did late.

When in such battles I listen to the other person's breathing to get a sense of how they are feeling. I also thought about the final race scene in Once a Runner where the hero notices the shoulders start to droop on the runner he's pursuing on the final lap... therefore gauging that he's beginning to fade and tire.

Knowing the course and layout was a big advantage to have. As the two of us caught up to another runner, I plotted to commence a longer kick coming off a sharp turn and entering a longer and wider straight away on the trails. So with about 600 meters left (and I like this distance as one for a long, extended kick) I made what I hoped to be my last move and took off. The guy I had been racing said something quick like "go get 'em" which I assumed meant he wasn't going with me. But I took no chances and kept the hammer down for a good 200-300 meters until the course turned onto the last single track trail section to the finish.  I kept thinking as I had for most of the latter half of the race Steve Prefontaine saying "you're going to have to bleed this out of me to beat me..."

I couldn't hear anyone behind me foot step or breathing wise then. Looping down this last trail my legs really started to tie up and I dry heaved and nearly hurled. My friend Shawn was trail side taking photos and yelled encouragement and told me to pump my arms (which was much appreciated). I had spent my capital and was done but had opened up a big gap (I did look back) and was able to cruise it home on wobbly legs across the last elevated boardwalk section and under the clock and into the finishing chute. I love being able to see the clock at the end of good races... its such a magical thing to see it when we are running a satisfying time. (though on the flip side we may curse and rue it when we just miss a pr or some goal time).

As for my Dad he had an ok race... but was upbeat and vowed to put in a little more work for the next time. For me its a little rest then some mileage/ harder work outs before a 5k on Dec 13th. Then I hope some more base building over the winter.